Loving Poetry: Poetic Schole for Moms

 Loving Poetry: 
Poetic Schole for Moms 

Poetry imparts life to its readers in a way that no other expression of the English language can boast of. It is also, sadly, most often the expression of language that seems most intimidating to readers. In poetry, we find ourselves and we find a world that we haven't physically beheld but can nonetheless SEE with the eyes of our souls. And, in poetry we see expressions of the human soul that simply can't exist in prose.

What we love is what we choose to love, and we can all choose to love poetry.
Poetry is good, true, beautiful, and worthy of our affection.

Here are a few of the things I share when I gather moms for a SCHOLE workshop that I call "Loving Poetry", with hopes that it gives you food for thought and inspiration regardless of whether you are an ardent lover of poetry, a beginner filled with trepidation, or anything in between.   

What is a poem? 

1. A literary work in which special intensity if given to the expression of feelings and ideas by the use of distinctive style and rhythm. 
2. Writing that formulates a concentrated imaginative awareness of experience in language chosen and arranged to create a specific emotional response through meaning, sound, and rhythm. 

Thoughts of Poets on Poetry: 

"I think our duty as writers begins not with our own feelings, but with the powers of observing."
 ~Mary Oliver 

"Poetry is the rhythmical creation of beauty in words"
~Edgar Allen Poe 

"Poetry is when an emotion has found its thought and the thought has found words." 
~Robert Frost 

"Poetry should be great and unobtrusive; a thing which enters into one's soul and does not startle it or amaze it with itself, but with its subject." 

"Poetry should strike the reader as a wording of his own highest thoughts and appear almost as a remembrance." 

"To have great poets, there must be great audiences"

"Painting is poetry that is seen rather than felt, and poetry is painting that is felt rather than seen." 
~Da Vinci 

Ideas Imparted by the Thoughts of Poets on Poetry: 
1. Poetry is observation. 
2 Beauty is as valuable as Truth. 
3.Poetry puts words to our thoughts and also helps us form thoughts from what we feel. 
4. Poetry's work is within. 
5. Poetry expresses our own ideas, feels like reliving our own experiences, and puts words to our highest and most elusive thoughts. 
6. Poetry is both communal and highly personal. 
7. Poetry is an art that can't be experiences unless actually experienced. 

Why Read Poetry: 

  • Poetry develops the moral imagination effortlessly and subconsciously. (Your own moral imagination and its development is just as important as that of your children.) 

    "This education of the feelings, moral education, is too delicate and personal a matter for a teacher to undertake trusting her own resources. Children {and mothers} are not to be fed morally like young pigeons with predigested food. They must pick and eat for themselves and they do so from the conduct of others which they hear of or perceive. But they want a great quantity of the sort of food whose issue is conduct, and THAT is why poetry, history, romance, geography, travel, biography, science and sums must all be pressed into service. No one can tell what particular morsel a child {or mother} will select for his sustenance." ~Mason, Volume 6 pg 59 

  • Poetry is the essence of an age. In the poetry from any given age of man, we find those men and their ideas. It is poets who express the questions, discoveries, observations, pains, triumphs, thoughts, and ideas of those who live in any given time. Poets observe their contemporaries and SEE what others don't, and they put these observations into words that reach us across generations, social constructs, and circumstances. 

    "A point which I should like to bring before the reader is the peculiar part which poetry playing in making us aware of this thought of the ages, including our own. Every age, every epoch, has its poetic aspect, its quintessence, as it were, and happy the people who have a Shakespeare, a Dante, a Milton, a Burns, to gather up and preserve its meaning as a world possession." 

  • Poetry is the "meeting of minds". In words of poetry, our minds meet those of both poets and also the minds of those that poets have observed. In poetry, we not only find expressions of our own highest thoughts, but we also think new thoughts as we discover them in the minds of others. 

  • Poetry increases vision. As we begin to be able to SEE what is described by a poet, rather something physical or emotional, we can feel what is written as one who has a vision for far more than what we've actually beheld with our own eyes. 

  • Poetry gives depth of language. It is subconsciously that our understanding grows as we read and enjoy poetry, and it is a slow and authentic building of context for life and people that we gain while also gaining an understanding and competency of language. 

Practical Benefits of Reading Poetry: 

  • Ear for Language 
  • Exposure to Sophisticated Language 
  • Extensive Vocabulary 
  • Immersion Into Diction and Rhythm 
  • Understanding and Context for Cultural References, Artistic References, Literary References, 
    Theological References, and Historical References (My favorite example of this is when I realized that when Lewis refers to God as "the Hound of Heaven" that he is referring to poetry. It was a sweet moment of connection for me, and "The Hound of of Heaven" is now one of my absolute favorite poems.) 
  •  Understanding of Metaphor 
  • Increased Capacity for Memory 
  • Developed Powers of Observations 
  • Skills for Public Speaking 
An Introductory Journey Through Poetry 

These poems are chosen carefully to introduce you to the thoughts of each age in poetic history, while also exposing you to a variety of poetic thought and expression. I have included the best of the best, while also thoughtfully curating the works of each poet that will introduce you to the greatest expressions of thoughts while also providing wide exposure to what exists in the canon of poetry. 

I recommend reading through each poem in order, in one sitting. After each poem is read, record your immediate impressions. Note what stands out to you, what strikes you even if you don't know exactly why, what confuses you, what provokes you- to thought, to disagree, or to anything, what you'd like to stick with you, and what moves you.

Then, return on a separate occasion to read through the list again, and expand your own impressions. Return a third time to those poems that you most love and those that you most dislike. Examine why you love and dislike what you do, and challenge yourself to think more deeply about both.  

Sonnet XCIV William Shakespeare 
Holy Sonnet X- John Donne 
The Conclusion- Sir Walter Raleigh 

On His Blindness- John Milton 

Defense of Fort McHenry- Francis Scott Key 
I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud- William Wordsworth 

The Charge of the Light Brigade- Tennyson 
Sonnet XLIII- Elizabeth Barrett Browning 
Old Ironsides- Oliver Wendell Holmes
O Captain! My Captain!- Walt Whitman 

If- Rudyard Kipling 
Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening- Robert Frost 
Carry On- Robert Service 

In a follow up post, I share principles and practices for Poetry Lessons with your children, in the context of a living education.

Also, if you'd like to explore these ideas, you can listen to my interview with Crystal from Triumphant Learning, on the All in a Homeschool Day Podcast. 
How to Add Poetry and Recitation to Your Homeschool

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